Fridays: short ebooks

Pragmatic Programmers has launched a new product line of short (60-100 pages) books which they are calling Fridays. The first one is $8.50.

It reminds me of what Philip Greenspun has said about writing. In his article What can we learn from Jakob Nielsen? he proposes that computer books are bloated to meet the pressures of the market, where the biggest spine often wins. He suggests that many books are expansions of short core ideas up to book length in order to sell. They would be better as a tight 30-50 pages. And you could deliver them on the web.

Prickly Paradigm Press is also doing something similar by publishing old skool pamphlets, like Rick Perlstein's The Stock Ticker and the Superjumbo and Thomas Geoghegan's The Law in Shambles. They are about 100 pages and cost $10.

This is a promising development in publishing.

There is one problem though -- how do I know if I want to read these ebooks? I can search for web pages and I don't usually have to pay for them. I can flip through books at the book store. But these ebooks aren't free, they're locked up behind paywalls. How do I find them? How do I know it will answer my question?